Player 2 Vs The Game Awards
The biggest celebration in the video game industry has arrived. Geoff Keighley’s The Game Awards are here for another year and as such, Player2 editors Matt Hewson and Paul James have come together to discuss all that we’ve seen at the show. Take it away guys.
The Guests and Performances
Paul: The Kojima party was here in force tonight with Hideo, Guillermo Del Toro and Norman Reedus all hitting the stage at various points. The much-hyped musical orchestra was sensational, putting together some incredible performances of some of the finest music to come from gaming this year while an appearance from Phoenix was also quite impressive (something I hadn’t expected I’d say when I first saw them take the stage). Several other celebrity cameos were present but none felt out of place.
Matt: A disappointing lack of drunk celebs aside, everyone at the show felt like they belonged there. No one felt forced. The orchestral performance (with a bit of Avenged Sevenfold love no less) was amazing. Hideo, Norman and Guillermo all continued the Kojima love that the Game Awards has always had.
Trending Gamer – Doctor Disrespect
Paul: I’ve been a big proponent of the Trending Gamer award in the past, but those past winners I feel have had meaningful things to say about the industry as well as been entertainers. Dr Disrespect is not one of those people and this was evidenced in his acceptance speech. I’m extremely disappointed that neither Andrea Rene (a prominent voice for women in the industry) or Steven Spohn (head of the AbleGamers community) were able to get up so that we could continue the recent history of recognising those looking to engage in real conversations about the medium we love so dearly. Hopefully Mr. Disrespect can leverage his new status and give a bit back to the business going forward.
Matt: Frankly, I hate this award. It doesn’t belong in this ceremony. But previously this award has been given to people that have brought the industry forward in meaningful ways, so it does have some value. Sadly that wasn’t the case this year.
Most Anticipated – The Last of Us: Part II
Paul: Given that The Last of Us Part II is the game I anticipate the most, I’m glad it got up, but the fact that this award has to exist in the first place is a joke. No more needs to be said about this – just give me TLOUII already
Matt: Sorry TLOUII, Everyone knows that Red Dead is the most anticipated title. But all kidding aside, how does a game that isn’t out yet get an award? I call bullshit.
Best Game Direction – Nintendo – Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Paul: It had to be Nintendo, what with two of the five nominees for Game of the Year as well as several others nominated in other categories. Nintendo has had one of the best years in its long existence and it was duly rewarded for it. Satoru Iwata would be proud.
Matt: Ok The year of the Switch, it marches on. Zelda winning is no surprise because it is so deserved. Even the two people on the planet that don’t actually like Zelda can’t argue that this is one hell of a game.
Game of the Year – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Paul: As soon as the award for ‘Best Direction’ was announced I knew Zelda had won because the winner of that award has historically always gone on to win the top gong. Eiji Aonuma and members of Nintendo should be used to winning a tonne of awards by now but the delight on the faces of those on stage to accept the award warmed even the coldest parts of my heart. A deserving winner, I look forward to Link’s next journey
Matt: In a year with so many great games there is probably another 5 that deserve this title, but you can’t argue that Zelda isn’t a deserving winner. Nintendo knocked it out of the park with this one and in my mind, it will be remembered more fondly than Ocarina and there is no higher praise than that. Well done Nintendo, now let’s keep the big N revival rolling!
Industry Icon Award – Carol Shaw (River Raid)
Paul: I’m a youngun so Carol Shaw is only a name I’d heard of, but never interacted with. River Raid is a game I was aware of but hadn’t been able to connect to a name either – until today. Geoff and his team have created a wonderful love letter to someone who I hardly knew until today but now have an enormous amount of respect for. Carol has aged quite a bit since the days of River Raid, but the brain is still firing on all cylinders and it was a pleasure to hear her speak in her acceptance speech. An equally nice gesture was Herman Hulst (Guerilla Games) who happened to be seated next to her and her husband, who took every opportunity to thank and congratulate them both. It was class all around and one of my highlights of the show.
Matt: I am clearly much older because I played so much River Raid as a kid. It was the precursor to Raiden, Gradius and a million other fondly remembered Arcade games. A really great story and a well-deserved winner that more than likely didn’t get the credit she deserved back when the Atari was the big kid on the block.
The Game Reveals
World War Z
Paul: A pre-show reveal, Saber and Paramount revealed World War Z, a game clearly inspired by the film that didn’t really tickle my fancy all that much. We’ve seen a few co-op shooters that pit you against ridiculous numbers of zombies, and this just appears to be another one. Pass
Matt: I like shooting Zombies as much as the next bloke but it is wearing a little thin at this point. It will need to do something interesting to grab my fancy but I am not writing it off just yet.
Paul: I adored the quirky Job Simulator, it was the first game I played on my PSVR, and I couldn’t get enough, so the fact that Owlchemy Labs are returning to the well pleases me greatly. It’ll be a lot of stupid fun, and that’s all I’m looking for from it.
Matt: Looks mental, I’m in.
Paul: Few things grate at me quite like someone screaming and shouting enthusiastically at me, and when both your trailer and then the developers do that in the same reveal trailer – I’m out. This could be one of the best games ever, but I simply do not care. I rewatched the trailer a few hours post-show and still hated it – A major blip on an otherwise clean radar Geoff.
Matt: This game looks like hot trash. Yelling fuck a lot is not humor and the obnoxious levels are high. No thanks, I’ll leave this one to the teenage crowd.
Paul: If this isn’t a tease for Bloodborne II, I will eat my hat. Many had theorised that an announcement was to come at PSX this year and with the short, simple trailer with the FromSoftware name attached and the simple words “Shadows Die Twice” sprawled across the screen, you’d have to think that those speculating that a Bloodborne II reveal is coming may be right. It didn’t tell us particularly much, but we’ll soon know the truth.
Matt: I don’t really know what to say about this one. I mean there really is nothing to the trailer. But Souls fans are already chomping at the bit and I am not game enough to stand in their way.
In The Valley of Gods
Paul: Firewatch was one of my favourite games of 2016 with an impactful story and incredible life and colour. Their newest work seems to be much grander in scope but still looking to tell a deep meaningful story. I was sold the moment I saw the Campo Santo name on the screen, and 2019 seems like the right amount of time between releases too. Can’t wait
Matt: I missed Firewatch, it is perpetually on my “must play” list but I haven’t gotten there yet. I am not going to wait on this one thought. Exploring Egyptian ruins is totally my bag. I love the style and the feeling of a 1940s expedition into the unknown. The trailer was great and I can’t wait.
The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild – The Champions Ballad DLC
Paul: As someone who has to this point in time played only 2 hours of Breath of the Wild, this was very much a look but don’t touch scenario. I’m weeks from sinking my teeth right into this game while mid-flight on my honeymoon, but currently all that they showed me in this trailer means nothing to me. I’m keen, I’m hyped, but I’ll have to wait a bit longer yet.
Matt: I am also very far behind in my Zelda journey but hey I am not going to be upset with more to come. I worry about DLC for Nintendo games, based on their history. But this looks to be getting things right. For those that have already poured a million hours into Zelda this looks to be perfect. Also loved the cheesy sword in the stone entry on the stage. A+ level cheese.
Soul Calibur VI
Paul: I have to say when the word ‘Souls’ was dropped in the lead up to what was ultimately Soul Calibur VI I sat up and paid attention… but when I connected the dots promptly slid back into my seat. Fighters aren’t really my thing, Soul Calibur VI didn’t really do anything to change that stance.
Matt: Soul Calibur has always been my favourite Namco Bandi fighting franchise. It always felt more visceral and engaging, so a new title in the franchise is very much a welcome sight. I really hope they get a good story mode in this one, as well as some crazy arse cameo characters.
Bayonetta 1 & 2 for Switch/ Bayonetta 3 Revealed
Paul: Cleverly manufactured by Geoff and Reggie, I was impressed but not blown away when Nintendo revealed that Bayonetta 1 & 2 were coming to Switch – I’d already played them both after-all, however I was knocked back in my seat when they dropped Bayonetta 3 immediately afterward. I’d been wondering what Platinum was up to – and I got the best possible answer.
Matt: Every man and his dog new Bayonetta 1 and 2 were coming to the Switch but the big surprise of Bayonetta 3. Hot damn. I am super keen. That is a big reveal and hopefully with the Switch’s much bigger install base, more people will enjoy this great title. It is a big get for Nintendo and hopefully will bring even more people into the fold.
Paul: The more I see, the more baffled I become. My hopes were high that I’d be seeing gameplay, given that Guillermo Del Toro had recently declared that he was going to see some himself around about now – not to be though. It was a nice long cinematic trailer, but not what we’d all been hoping for. I’m as confused as I’ve ever been, but it was an intriguing ride throughout.
Matt: Does anyone know what the hell is going on? Does Kojima? Who cares it is going to be a hell of a trip finding out. It looks amazing, strange, enticing and batshit mental all at the same time. The trailer needed more Madds though.
Paul: Was hyped when I saw ‘From the developers of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’, confused when I saw a gun and ‘but also the developers of Painkiller and Bulletstorm’ and in love by the end of the trailer. Witchfire looks like a game I could really get around, and combining the talents of impressive storytellers like those responsible for ‘Vanishing’ and the mechanically driven FPS talents of those responsible for ‘Bulletstorm’ and you’ve got a winner in my books
Matt: What a great trailer. Loved it. Looks like a lot of fun. I am always down for some crazy FPS action and add some of that Ethan Carter atmosphere it should be a cracker. Sign me up.
A Way Out
Paul: I’m keen on A Way Out, but that took a backseat to the Josef Fares show. Abusing the Oscars, making bold statements about the EA controversies, being vocal in his support of them and then taking Geoff a mile off-script, Josef did it all. The new gameplay impressed and the March release date left me hyped for more.
Matt: Josef is a world-class, a grade nutter and I love it. The game looks great too, I love the idea of a wholly co-op adventure. It seems like something that would never come from EA, but I am glad it will have their publishing muscle behind it. A unique title that I can’t wait to get my hands on.
Paul: Aside from the interesting naming conventions at play here, GTFO is showing some positive signs. A 4 player co-op shooter that seems to integrate some survival horror and the lightest tower defence elements is something I greatly look forward to. While there are some similarities between this and World War Z (which I wasn’t a fan of), GTFO, at least on first impression has a much greater sense of atmosphere, and that appealed to me greatly.
Matt: As we know from Payback, these devs know a lot about co-op so I am glad to see them bringing their skills to a horror/thriller style game. It gave me a real Aliens vibe, much more than a traditional zombie feeling. These games live and die by their community but I am excited to give it a go.
Paul: This is one of the few games whose presence at The Game Awards was divulged prior to the event. 4A impressed when it debuted Exodus at E3 on the Microsoft stage, and it seems as though they’ve only improved things further. It’s dark, dank and brooding and I love what they’re doing. I tried Metro 2033 years ago and it didn’t grab me, but given how much Exodus has impressed me on both occasions it makes me want to try out 2033 and Last Light again
Matt: PUMP THIS INTO MY VEINS. I have a long-standing love for the Metro games. Dark, depressing and utterly enthralling, The Metro games have long been my personal high water mark for FPS storytelling and atmosphere and nothing about this new entry tells me that is going to change. Just give it to me already.
Paul: We’re still not that much closer to knowing what on earth Dreams is. It has worlds to play and worlds that can be made, as with Media Molecule’s work on LittleBigPlanet but beyond that, I’m a little confused as to how everything works. That said, we’ll be getting answers this weekend thanks to PSX – right now, I’m just glad the game still exists.
Matt: I think I had less of an idea about this game than I did with Death Stranding and that is saying something. I am not usually a creator type of fellow so this isn’t really in my wheelhouse but it looks great and I am sure those Minecrafty folk out there will get a real kick out of it.
Fade to Silence
Paul: An all-new survival game coming from THQNordic, announced today and out before Christmas? Sure, why not! It was hard to glean much from what was shown but with the game entering Early Access next week, it won’t be long before we know a lot more. I’ll wait and see here.
Matt: How good it is to see the THQ name bringing out new games! This one looks dark…. Like plain crash and eating your rugby teammates dark. For a survival game, it seems to have a lot more action in it which I am totally down with. I tend to grow bored with survival titles because I spend too much time having to collect resources etc. I am actually keen on this one, it could be a sleeper hit.
Paul: The ad breaks kept me on my toes, because while we had some that were very sponsorship heavy, there were others that slipped in some important details, chief among them the subtle little promo from Microsoft for Sea of Thieves that ended with a March 20 release date!!! It was also quite pleasing to see that little Aussie student game Level Squared received the award for Best Student game… another feather in the cap for a breakout 2017 for Aussie developers.
Matt: I thankfully watched this show after the fact so I could fast forward all the ads. I realise a show of this size requires some serious dollar bills to run but man there were a lot of ads. That said I enjoyed the show, some nice performances, genuine reactions and fun little splashes of humour. It felt to me that this year The Game Awards matured just that little bit and that is only a good thing for the industry.